David Weinberger proposes how Google might build a browser – a world browser he calls it. To quote David:
It would not be a Web browser. It’d be a world browser. It would find pages on the Web, of course, but it’d also find the ones on my desktop (Google desktop). It would know about my email (Gmail). It would know that my own photos are categorically different from all the other jpgs on the planet (Picasa). It would let me browse the physical earth (Keyhole) and show on a map the documents that talk about any particular place (Keyhole + Google Local).
He also says that it would need a File Manager, and mentions that it could replace current browsers. Let’s go further though. A file is just an abstraction, or metaphor, that leads us to believe that we are dealing with a document rather than some collection of bytes somewhere. We go to great pains to organize these in some intelligent directory structure, or in a content management system. If we are global, then we also have the issue of where the authoritative copy is. But Google specializes in finding stuff, so imagine that I no longer have to organize things. Google will find what I a looking for wherever it is. With Keyhole they could even tell me where on the planet it is. I can also share what I want to with others through Blogger and Picasa – a publishing model.
Stretch a little further and think that Google could also find locate services either locally or remotely and connect me to them. Services could be applications like Word, my intranet, or my VPN. I could locate a report, view, comment, and then save it. And of course Google remembers the services I use typically – my preferences.
So I could find information wherever it was, and select the appropriate service to work with it wherever I am – remember we’re in a browser here – why would I need my traditional Windows desktop at all? And as someone who switches machines all too frequently, think of your entire environment traveling with you, without the pain of installing an configuring applications yet again. With access to services, for a price of course, like software subscription services.
With the purchase of Keyhole I also think it would be a great opportunity for Google to sell location-based services, like giving me the closest selection of hotels when I’m traveling somewhere, or where the closest five star restaurant (or Jack in the Box) is located based on proximity to where I am. And perhaps the friendliest bloggers nearby to chat with.